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Chalk one up for cable

Sun, 01/21/2001 - 7:00pm
Karen Kessler-Tanaka

Like outgoing President Clinton, outgoing FCC Chairman William E. Kennard made some decisions before he left his post. Kennard and his committees analyzing the dual-carriage fuss between the cable industry and broadcasters decided that cable providers are not, at this time, required to carry a broadcast station's digital and analog signals.

"It's a big win for the cable industry, and a bitter loss for broadcasters," Mike Paxton, senior analyst at Cahners In-Stat Group, tells CED. "For almost two years they [cable and broadcasters] have been going tooth and nail over this. Cable operators didn't like the idea of dual-carriage because they felt it took up space on the spectrum. The operators are already carrying the analog signal and felt that being required to carry the digital signal as well was infringing on first amendment rights. Broadcasters argued that digital TV is not moving forward in the U.S. because the industry could not get carriage for its digital signals from cable operators."

"There were a lot of nasty talks on both sides. I was surprised they [the FCC] ruled on it at this time - they didn't have to. Kennard could have left it for the next administration," says Paxton. "But for now, the status quo remains in effect."

FCC Chairman William E. Kennard resigned his post as Federal Communications Commission Chairman Jan. 19. Though not official, it looks as though Michael Powell will replace him.

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